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The Art of Courtly Love (Records of Civilization) Paperback – April 15, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231073054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231073059
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

About the Author

Andreas Capellanus (Andre the Chaplain) wrote The Art of Courtly Love at the request of Countess Marie of Troyes, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The book is believed to have been intended to portray conditions at Queen Eleanor's court at Poitiers between 1170 and 1174, but Capellanus wrote it most likely several years later.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Nevertheless, an interesting read.
Jack
A series of dialogues between men and women of various social ranks concerning why love should be accepted or rejected, written during the Middle Ages.
Cas
Perhaps the most interesting influence in Capellanus' life is that of Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of England and wife to King Henry II.
Jana R. Russ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jana R. Russ on August 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
Andreas Capellanus, chaplain at the court of Countess Marie de Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, wrote this treatise on courtly love in the 12th century--ostensibly to educate a friend--and thus set a new standard for lovers. Capellanus' work may have been intended as a satirical reworking of Ovid's Ars Amatoria, or it might have been influenced by the Arabic views of love in The Dove's Neck-Ring by Ibn Hazm a Mozarabic writer of the 11th century. Whatever his intent, his work, The Art of Courtly Love, influenced the aristocracy's ideas of social relationships, and the portrayal of male-female roles in romantic literature, well into the Renaissance. In a series of conversational examples between men and women of various classes together with a list of rules of love, Capellanus draws distinctions between the relationship of marriage and the relations between true lovers. Within the context of courtly love the true lover is required to pay homage to and do the bidding of his ladylove above all else. True love according to Capellanus does not exist between husband and wife, but is a state sought by all outside of the marriage bed. He states, attributing the sentiment to "M., Countess of Champagne", that "Love cannot acknowledge any rights of his between husband and wife". This attitude is understandable in a society where marriages were contracted for position and fortune.
In one of the sets of rules for lovers set forth by Capellanus he states that "No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons". This would justify romantic relationships of which women were otherwise deprived. Before modern times, love was rarely a factor in choosing a spouse, and yet it is perhaps the strongest force that drives mankind.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is the sort of book you look for, not a scholarly book compiled from various sources and presented for a modern reader, but a treatise written at the time that Courtly Love was at its height in France. This book consists of three sections. The first has dialogues between men and women of different classes, which are of a man trying to reason with a woman for her love.
In the book there are two nice stories, but the third section was the most suprprising. The first two sections summarize the
rules of love to a young man the author knows named Walter, but in the third he gives his own opinion about pursuing love
and women to the boy that gave what seemed like a light work the ending of a heavy and controversial commentary.
I liked it, and you will especially as preparation to reading books of the era such as King Arthur. I gave the book a rating of 8
only because the dialogues all seemed to be similar, but on the whole its a great book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Boleyn on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a must read if you are at all interested in medieval life. Aside from being the premiere treatise on "courtly love," there are interesting historical issues raised by this book.
For example, in the section "What persons are fit for love," Capellanus says that "Age is a bar, because after the sixtieth year in a man and the fiftieth in a woman...passion cannot develop into love..." The conventional wisdom holds that most people did not live much past 40 in those days. Evidently Capellanus ran across a few people in their 50s and 60s, in addition to his encounters with nuns. (You will have to read the book to find out more)
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Cas VINE VOICE on July 14, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A series of dialogues between men and women of various social ranks concerning why love should be accepted or rejected, written during the Middle Ages. There are other bits, such as Courts of Love and long letters written to this or that person, but that's mostly it.
I found it an interesting read. You hear a lot about "courtly love", but nobody really talks about the underpinnings of the tradition. Since the writer was a monk, one truly wonders just what in the world he knows about love, but upon reading the dialogues, one becomes convinced that this isn't about love. It's about social behavior within a certain context, within a very narrow time frame within a very narrow part of Europe, one indulged in by a very narrow group of people. And yet when we think of the Middle Ages, we think of courtly love. There's a reason for that, and reading this book will help the introspective reader see why.
The 5 stars were for how it stands as a primary source documenting the period. It is excellent in that regard. It does drag sometimes, and many of the dialogues are, indeed, repetitive-sounding. But that's how medieval documents WERE. They wanted to be sure the point got across, I think. I'm also half-convinced that the writer wasn't being entirely serious in some places. Again, he was a monk, and it's possible it was just an exercise in logic, as the forward to this book explains in good detail.
I'm not sure I'd want to read this if I were just a casual reader. It won't give many hints about how to romance someone in OUR time period -- nowadays we like passion, not logic, to be the impetus for beginning a love affair. But it will give the history student something to chew on and I think it's an essential piece of understanding one of the weirder aspects of the Middle Ages.
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